In modern Britain the assumption is often made that people who live in rural communities are quite wealthy and living very comfortable lives. Whilst this may be true for many people who live in rural areas, there are also many people who are living below the poverty line in rural Britain. Many rural communities have suffered from a loss of industry and local jobs as local mines and factories have closed or moved elsewhere. The face of rural communities has been changing over the past few decades as economic and social trends have progressed.
In communities that previously relied upon their local mine or steel factory, poverty can become a problem because there are no longer as many jobs for people with those industrial skills. The government has taken action to support some industries, including nationalisation and restrictions on imports. Despite this many people have been forced to retrain to find employment to avoid living in poverty.
One problem that has affected some rural communities is the increasing number of people from outside their community buying up large amounts of property. People from other areas are buying houses and cottages that were once home to local workers, and they are often only used as second homes by those buying them. As a consequence, many homes are owned by people who are spending the majority of their time away from the rural community in which their residence is located. Because they are not spending much time living in these properties they are often not contributing to the local economy by using its services, choosing to go to more urban areas as an alternative.
House prices in the area can be forced up as more people look to purchase homes in the countryside, and whilst this may be of benefit to potential property developers, it is not always good for the local people. Increasing house prices can often force local people to move away from their town or village because they cannot afford to own a property. This leaves a community without a core of permanent young residents and can have a negative effect on community spirit.
A lack of services is another symptom of an increase in rural poverty. Smaller schools are being closed which forces people to either find schools further afield or relocate completely. The increasingly frequent closure of post offices also has a negative effect as it leaves local people with a lack of services at their disposal, making life much more difficult. Rising petrol prices also have an acute effect on those in rural areas as they are often required to travel great distances to use basic services, such as schools, the post office or shopping facilities.